The Restaurant & Takeaway Innovation Expo

15 & 16 JUNE 2021

ExCeL LONDON

Post-Pandemic: How to Get Your Food Vendor Back in Business

Food vendors across the UK are breathing a sigh of relief as the lockdown measures ease and they can start preparing to open their doors again.

However, it certainly won’t be easy.

Social distancing rules, challenging hygiene restrictions and changes in consumer behaviour mean that it will be harder than ever to run a successful and highly profitable business.

In order to get back on their feet, restaurants, cafes, food trucks, food stalls, ice cream vans and other food vendors will need to monitor consumer behaviour and adapt to these ever-changing circumstances to survive.

With this in mind, here are four tips that can help.

1. Rethink how you operate

When the stricter lockdown was in place, many food vendors were forced to give up their premises because they simply didn’t have the finances. That’s why the first steps towards opening should be finding a more affordable alternative.

Many large and small food businesses operate from food trucks that can be driven to a chosen location then packed away and parked when no longer needed.

The advantage of this method is that you’ll have zero rent charges, you’ll be very flexible, and are free to move your business as required. The only downside is that space can be limited inside and you will need to factor in the costs of running a vehicle.

Another excellent alternative is to use a customised shipping container. This offers some of the same flexibility and affordability as a food truck but offers more space to help you grow a solid customer base.

“If you’re looking for a business premises with a twist a converted shipping container could be the perfect solution,” agrees family-owned container specialists S Jones, “They are quirky, secure, weatherproof and you can avoid the cost of paying rent as you would with a shop, making it a more cost-effective option long term. It can be tailor-made to meet your requirements and can be totally unique!”

2. Open safely

Fear and anxiety about contracting COVID-19 remain understandably high so customers are often less willing to visit the same food vendors as they were.  That’s why it’s important to put clear hygiene practices into place and share what you’re doing with your customers.

Doing this will help you meet the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 that relate to food vendors whilst also building a sense of trust between you and your customers and reducing the risk of transmission.

Exactly how you do this depends on what type of business you run.

For example, restaurants and cafes will need to take a slightly different approach to outdoor food vendors such as ice cream vans and hot dog stalls.

Methods could include:

  • Staff wearing protective clothing such as masks and gloves to help reduce the risk of transmission
  • Staff washing and sanitizing hands after every customer
  • Displaying signs to remind customers to maintain social distancing rules of 2 metres
  • Placing protective plexiglass on the vehicle or premises to protect staff and customers
  • Encouraging the use of contactless payments where possible
  • Offering a pre-order and delivery service where appropriate
  • Asking customers to sanitize their hands before visiting your premises

Again, make sure that whatever you do, you share with your customers. Display signs everywhere. Post the information on your social media pages and website.

3. Adapt your business

Many businesses have continued to make a profit over these past few months because they’ve adapted to the closures and social distancing rules.

Even if customers can’t come to them, many have started offering individual home deliveries or changed their business offerings in another way that still allows them to make a profit.

Doing this often isn’t easy, especially if you’ve been running your business for a long time. It also takes some creative thinking and it might feel like you’re going against everything you’ve ever wanted for your brand. However, it’s almost always the right move for your business.

For example, some businesses such as ice cream vans have added extra items to their inventories such as toilet roll, bread, milk and eggs that would be otherwise hard to get. Others have offered home delivery.

4. Use the power of the web

While in lockdown, many food vendor businesses have discovered that they can still reach their customers and even grow thanks to the power of the internet.

Using their own websites, social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and delivery companies such as UberEats and Deliveroo, these companies have been able to keep serving their customers and bring in a profit.

They’ve also been able to grow their brand and attract new customers by using these online tools.

A great example is the ice cream innovator, Mr Tee King of Desserts who has managed to amass nearly a quarter of a million Facebook followers despite the lockdown with clever marketing and also offering online ordering.

How could you help your business thrive using the web?

Summary

Even though the prospect of getting your business back on its feet might seem like an overwhelming task in the face of social distancing restrictions, you can do it. By making hygiene a priority, adapting to the new market conditions and finding more cost-effective premises, you can build trust and start making a profit again.

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